Like Bean Sprouts Reaching

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Last night, the two roommates were chatting about the grade one had just received for his first ever university quiz.

Roommate 1: "You know, I really don't care about grades. Who care? I mean, 2nd Upper is enough. Who needs a 1st class? That's why I chose to come NTU."

Roommate 2: "So how did you do?"

Roommate 1: "I got full marks. This contributes to my final score, hahah, and I didn't even study hard. I mean, I didn't even go for lectures. And I even skip tutorials sometimes. Even the three scholars in my class didn't get full marks."

He was trying to be humble but was too pleased with his achievement to be so. There are reasons for him to be happy; this did seem like a promising start. He studied from 1 am to 6 am almost every single day. And there was nothing wrong with him wanting to talk more about his academic success when he put in so much effort.

But strange, they seem so young - innocent even - to derive such pleasure from talking about grades. They are like school children in the bodies of young men. Perhaps I was like them too - foolish and insecure, ignorantly pleased about trivia, self-centric and relentless like bean sprouts reaching for something.

Perhaps I'm still like that, deriving a great part of my identity from external validation, seeking approval from family, colleagues, bosses, instructors and peers. Then again, most people are like that.

There is this disconcerting sense of wanting to be free, of wanting to untangle oneself from the web and weight of social expectations. A feeling of not belonging in the endless consumptive craze fostered by a capitalist culture.


It is important for us to know that within these structures, 
we have the autonomy to resist the approved ideals and script our personal narratives.

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